Busy Season Finale / Sűrű szezonvég

The 2017-18 Season is coming to an end. Since I arrived to Budapest, Hungary after the last classical concert of the Huntsville Symphony season I have had an extremely busy schedule. A conducting-composition masterclass organized by the Peter Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation took place at the Budapest Music Center. The musicians of the Danubia Symphony Orchestra were conducted by 7 young conductors in Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Punkte and Arnold Schoenberg’s Chambersymphony op.9. Thee new pieces were also premiered, two for string trio, one for violin and piano by young composers. These concerts are always streamed live on the website of the BMC. Everyone has done a great job, and I had fun teaching alongside Peter Eötvös and Alessandro Solbiati.
http://www.wikipedia.org

June 5 was the date of the performance of my opera, Barbie Blue (libretto by András Almási Tóth) as the “matching piece” for Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. This production was part of the ‘BLUEBEARD 100’ Festival of the Hungarian State Opera. At the Erkel Theater (the main opera house building is being remodeled right now and is closed for another season) great singers and the musicians of the State Opera Orchestra did a great job of playing both works (neither of them is easy!), and I enjoyed working with stage director, and former director of the Opera, Miklós Szinetár.
http://www.wikipedia.org
On June 13 I was the conductor of the final exam of the students of the opera department of the Liszt Academy. We have performed a one of a kind, beautiful work, ‘Le vin herbé’ (The Love Potion) by Frank Martin, which practically tells the original version of the Tristan and Isolde story. Unlike the famous Wagner opera, this work is scored for 12 singers, 7 string players and a piano, and has a totally different approach to the legend. Andras Almasi Toth directed the performance, and it was beautifully choreographed by Noémi Kulcsár, artistic Director of the Tellabor Dance Company.

And now, Armel Opera Festival and Competition 2018 is around the corner. I am conducting two performances this year. On July 3 and 4 at the MUTH Theater in Vienna we will be presenting my chamber opera, The Giant Baby, and Lady Sarashina, a one act opera by Peter Eötvös. The latter production is a revival (with a partially new cast) of András Almási Tóth’s staging of the work in collaboration with the Liszt Academy. The Pannon Philharmonic, resident orchestra of the festival will be playing. The Giant Baby was my very first opera. In the last 15 or so years I have composed 3 others, and learned along the way how and what to write for the stage and for operatic voices. I decided to totally rewrite the music for The Giant Baby, and also to rework the libretto with the help of writer Péter Horváth. The Giant Baby is a surrealist story about life in general, and both the music and the staging is aiming at a very special audience, young adults (16+) and adults at the same time. This production is a collaboration between Armel Festival and the Kolibri Theater.
http://www.kolibriszinhaz.hu
János Novák, general director of the theater is doing the staging, and the beautiful puppets are designed by Klaudia Orosz. Here is her page with a couple of photos of her designs.
http://www.kolibriszinhaz.hu
Here is the link to the festival with all the details.
http://www.armelfestival.org
Remember, all performances are LIVE BROADCAST on Arte Concert website and will be available to watch for 6 months afterwards!
There will be two more performances of The Giant Baby in Budapest, on July 6 & 7. With these two performances my season ends and my summer season starts. More about the latter in a later post.

It is a nice coincidence that 3 of my 4 operas happen to be played during the same season. ‘Georgia Bottoms’ had its Hungarian premiere in October, 2017, then there was ‘Barbie Blue’, and now ‘The Giant Baby’ is coming up. Oh yes, and I also made it to the KULT50 selection this year, which is a list comprised by cultural journalists and critics, and published by Fidelio magazine. I was in the 4 artists invited to participate in the press conference. It was a very interesting conversation about Trends and Brands.

——

A 2017-18-as szezon hamarosan véget ér. Amióta Budapestre érkeztem a Huntsville Symphony idei utolsó koncertje után, nem volt megállás. Az Eötvös Intézet által szervezett karmester-zeneszerző kurzuson Karlheinz Stockhausen Punkte és Schönberg Kamaraszimfónia című műveit tanítottam. A fiatal zeneszerzők és karmesterek jól szerepeltek, és a Danubia Zenekar muzsikusai is kitettek magukért. Élvezet volt Eötvös Péterrel és Alessandro Solbiati
http://www.wikipedia.org
olasz zeneszerzővel együtt dolgozni.

Június 5-én került az Erkel Színház színpadára Barbie Blue című operám (Almási Tóth András librettójára) mint a Kékszakállú Herceg Vára párdarabja, a Magyar Állami Operaház Kékszakállú 100 fesztiválja keretében. Az előadás második felében a Kékszakállú Szinetár Miklós rendezésében ment, akivel, akárcsak az est négy énekes szólistájával, öröm volt dolgozni. Az Operaház Zenekarának ez úton is külön köszönöm a figyelmes munkát, és a szép végeredményt!

Június 13-án a Zeneakadémia operavizsgájának keretében elvezényelhettem Frank Martin ‘Le vin herbé’ (A szerelmi bájital) című “ellen-Trisztánját”, amelyet 12 tagú kamarakórusra, hét vonósra és zongorára komponált a svájci zeneszerző. Vicces, hogy pont aznap ment, amikor a MÜPÁ-ban Wagner Trisztán és Izoldája. 🙂 Ismét remekül dolgoztunk Kulcsár Noémivel és Almási Tóth Andrással.

Most következik az idei Armel Fesztivál és Opera Verseny. Július 3-án saját művemet, a Déry Tibor szövege alapján íródott Az Óriáscsecsemőt, majd másnap Eötvös Péter Lady Sarashina című egyfelvonásosát vezényelem a bécsi MUTH Színházban, utóbbit a Pannon Filharmonikusok közreműködésével. A Lady Sarashina az Almási Tóth András rendezte Zeneakadémiás produkció felújítása lesz, míg Az Óriáscsecsemőt Novák János rendezi majd, a Kolibri Színház művészeivel, tervező Orosz Klaudia. További előadások az Operett Színház Raktárszínházában július 6-án és 7-én.
Az Armelről és az Arte Concert élő közvetítéseiről itt lehet részleteket megtudni:
http://www.armelfestival.org

Ezzel az idei szezonban 4 operámból 3 kerül színre valamilyen formában, ami csupán a véletlen műve, és mint ilyen valóban a csillagok szép együttállását jelzi. Idén belekerültem a Fidelio KULT50 válogatásába is, és Tenki Réka színésznővel, Ragályi Elemér operatőrrel és Parti Nagy Lajos íróval együtt a KULT50 sajtótájékoztatójára s meghívtak, ahol Trend és Brand címmel érdekes beszélgetésnek lehettem a résztvevője.

Hamarosan újabb posztban jelentkezem majd a nyári szezon eseményeivel.

In Two Languages / Két nyelven

I believe, I owe my Hungarian friends the courtesy after so many years, so here we go: I will be posting, from now on, in two languages. As it turns out many people from Hungary follow my blog, and I feel I should make it easier for them to keep up with the items from my news desk.
In exchange, as promised, I will post translations here of Hungarian reviews, but for that I ask for you patience. I am in the middle of composing my opera “The Giant Baby” (actually completely re-composing it, since Giantbaby was actually my very first opera written in 2001), and as soon as I am done with the music I will have more time on my hands.

After a successful concert with the Danubia Symphony (see two reviews below in Hungarian)
http://www.toptipp.hu
http://www.fidelio.hu
I have taught at the conducting-composition masterclass of the Peter Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation for a few days (Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale and newly composed pieces were on the program) for a couple of days. We have had the pleasure of working with young composers and conductors, including the four talented young men who were chosen as the first participants of the very special mentoring program.
See details here:
http://www.eotvosmusicfoundation.org

On Sunday I have flown to Hamburg where I have started the rehearsals for the revival of the double bill Senza Sangue/ Bluebeard’s Castle at Staatsoper Hamburg. I am doing two out of the four performances on March 3 and 9. Before that, on March 1, I will be conducting a concert I am really looking forward to, with the soloists of the Hungarian Radio Symphony at the Liszt Academy. Schonberg: Pierrot lunaire, Berio: Folksongs, and Stravinsky: Renard are on the program.
http://www.zeneakademia.hu
On March 8 there will be another great program with major works by Kurtág, J.S. Bach and Rachmaninov as part of the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra’s “In Memoriam Zoltán Kocsis” concert series.
http://www.pfz.hu

Úgy hiszem, itt az idő, hogy mindazok kedvéért, akik szívesebben olvasnák a blogomat magyarul, elkezdjek két nyelven posztolni. Ez úton is köszönöm az eddigi bizalmat és érdeklődést, és remélem, hogy ezzel a pozitív változással még többek érdeklődését felkeltem majd. Januárban az óbudai Danubia Zenekart vezényeltem a Zeneakadémián a “Gépek” című izgalmas, és nem ellentmondásokat nélkülöző programban. A fenti két első link ennek a koncertnek két, magyarul megjelent, kritikájára vezet. Néhány nap tanítás után (az Eötvös Péter Alapítvány karmester-zeneszerző kurzusán a BMC-ben, ahol ezúttal a több éves mentor program első fiataljai is részt vettek http://www.eotvosmusicfoundation.org ) Hamburgba repültem. Hétfőn kezdődtek a Staatsoper Hamburg tavalyi Senza sangue-Kékszakállú produkciója felújításának próbái. A négy előadásból kettőt vezényelek majd, március 3-án és 9-én.
Mindeközben magyarországi koncertjeim is folytatódnak. A Magyar Rádió Zeenekarának zenészei és Meláth Andrea énekművész közreműködésével március 1-én Schönberg: Pierrot lunaire, Berio: Folksongs, és Stravinsky: A róka című darabjait dirigálom a Zeneakadémia Solti termében.
http://www.zeneakademia.hu

Március 8-án a Pannon Filharmonikusok élén, a Kodály központban, a Kocsis Zoltán emlékére rendezett koncertsorozat részeként vezényelem Kurtág György, Johann Sebastian Bach és Rachmaninov műveit. A zongoraszólista Palojtay János lesz.
http://www.pfz.hu

Mindeközben komponálom első operám, Az Óriáscsecsemő teljesen új verzióját, melynek bemutatója az idei Armel versenyen, a bécsi MUTH színházban lesz. Az opera librettőja (Horváth Péter és jómagam munkája) Déry Tibor azonos című, 1926-os “dadaista drámáján” alapszik, a produkciót a Kolibri Színház jegyzi majd, rendező Novák János lesz.

The Season of Operas

On Monday we are starting the second week of ‘DialogScene’ workshop organized by the Peter Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation. I will be moderating a “meet the audience” session in the evening.
http://www.bmc.hu
The final performance of the five brand new operas composed by young composers from all over the world, and directed by young Hungarian directors (music-theater directors’ class of Tamás Ascher) is open to the audience and will be held in the evening of Friday, September 15.
Click below for more details.
http://www.bmc.hu

When I am not teaching I am composing new music to my first opera, The Giant Baby. The world premiere will take place in Vienna as part of the 2018 Armel Opera Festival. I am having a lot of fun with totally re-writing the music to the slightly altered libretto based on the 1926 Dadaist play by Hungarian Author Tibor Déry.
https://www.britannica.com

Just so we stick to the theme of the fall of 2017, my latest stage work, ‘Georgia Bottoms, A Comic Opera of the Modern South’ will get a new production at the Academy of Music as part of CAFe Budapest (Contemporary Art Festival Budapest). Rebecca Nelsen, who sang the title role in Huntsville two years ago returns as Georgia. Also in the role of her son, Nathan I am happy to have the young and talented American baritone, Keith Browning from the original cast. Author of the novel, Georgia Bottoms, my co-librettist, Mark Childress (who will also be here for the Hungarian premiere) and I have added two completely new scenes and changed one of the old ones to make the story more complete. Changes were needed also to give a little resting time and more than a minute to change costumes for rebecca as Georgia Bottoms. The staging will be done by Andras Almasi Toth, and the other 9 roles will be sung by talented Hungarian singers, including Andrea Meláth, head of the Vocal Department of the Liszt Academy. Here are the dates for the performances:
October 8 and 10
and a link to the website of CAFe Budapest:
https://www.cafebudapest.hu

Les feux d’artifice

“The fireworks have ended. They did not last long.”
http://www.youtube.com
These are the last words of Rufus Wainwright’s opera “Prima Donna”. The premiere is this afternoon at the Kodály Center in Pecs (Southern Hungary), second performance on June 28 in Budapest with a live HD broadcast on Arte Concert. Check out the cast here:
http://www.armelfestival.org
Watch out for the broadcast details on FaceBook and on Twitter! Until then here is a concert video from Paris with the fully orchestrated version of the song.
http://www.youtube.com

I have spent a lot of time this past month with wonderful “prima donnas” and talented singers in productions of the following operas:
Kamillo Lendvay: The respectable Prostitute
Gyorgy Ligeti: Le grand macabre
Mate Bella: Spring Awakening
Gabor Peter Mezei: By the Catafalque
Arpad Solti: La Violetta

After “MagyarFeszt” (a festival of Hungarian operas organized by the State Opera), I was invited to teach a conducting master class with Peter Eötvös at his Contemporary Music Institute. It was a great week with the Danubia Orchestra and the music of Wolfgang Rihm and Zoltan Kodály. Next week, with the June 28 performance of “Prima Donna” opens the 10th Armel Opera Festival and Competition. I will also conduct the final gala concert of the Armel Festival with award winning singers from France and Hungary. It’s going to be a nice change of pace with music by Mozart, Donizetti, Bizet, Gounod and others.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Sudden and Light

‘What do you make so fair and bright?’

‘I make the cloak of Sorrow:
O lovely to see in all men’s sight
Shall be the cloak of Sorrow,
In all men’s sight.’

‘What do you build with sails for flight?’

‘I build a boat for Sorrow:
O swift on the seas all day and night
Saileth the rover Sorrow,
All day and night.’

What do you weave with wool so white?’

‘I weave the shoes of Sorrow:
Soundless shall be the footfall light
In all men’s ears of Sorrow,
Sudden and light.’

The poem above is by Yeats and it provides the lyrics to my orchestral song composed for my next concert in Budapest. On Tuesday at the helm of the Hungarian Radio Symphony I conduct a program of the following compositions:

Haydn: Farewell Symphony
R. Strauss: Morgen!

Haydn: The Desert Island (L’isola disabitata) Overture
G. Vajda: The Cloak, The Boat and The Shoes [World Premiere]
R. Strauss: Four Last Songs

The concert program is designed as an homage to Jozsef Vajda, my late father who has passed this February at the age of 68. He served as the principal bassoonist of the Radio Symphony for 28 years. It is an honor to be able to present a concert in his memory as part of the Liszt Academy concert series of the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The program revolves around the gesture of ‘farewell’ and includes pieces I have heard my Father play several times (like the Haydn Symphony). The wonderful Eva Batori will be singing the soprano part for all the songs. Please listen to the concert live or stream it for two weeks after the concert at:
http://mediaklikk.hu

Read a great analysis here about the Yeats poem I put into music in my “Lullaby for Soprano and Orchestra”:
http://stuffjeffreads.wordpress.com

Mozart in the Looney Bin

I am about to take another brief break from Eötvös and Bartók, and take a short trip to London to conduct Mozart’s Magic Flute with the staging of Róbert Alföldi
http://alfoldirobert.eu
as part of the Armel Opera Festival Days at the Hackney Empire Theater.
This is going to be my London debut.
The director has placed Mozart’s magical opera-characters between the walls of a mental institution, where everybody has his or her own mental issue. Magically (pun intended) this idea works really well and highlights some of the more interesting twists and turns of the original story. Just think about it for a second: who is the bad guy here? Is it really the Queen of the Night or is it Sarastro? Is everything black and white like we would like it to be?

Check out the full Armel program at the Hackney Empire here including the ‘In Memory of 1956’ concert program on October 23 conducted by Adam Fischer
http://hackneyempire.co.uk

In Nature’s Realm

I am back in Huntsville. The weather is beautiful as always in September. As my friends in Europe are starting to wear their rain coats and sweaters, I still get to dip in the swimming pool in the morning. I love how summer is stretched out here in the South.

Our 2016-17 Season at the HSO is starting with a kind of musical meditation on Nature and on Human Life.

Dvořák: In Nature’s Realm, op. 91
Smetana: The Moldau, from My Homeland
Fauré: Requiem, op. 48

Guest Artists:
Tiffany Boltic-Brown, Terrance Brown and the Huntsville Community Chorus

Visit our website for more information on our opening gala and on the rest of the season.
http://hso.org

Talking about “meditation”, very soon musicians of the Huntsville Symphony and myself will be presenting a Yoga Session with Live Music at one of my favorite venues ever: Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment
http://lowemill.net
More about this concert soon!

Last week was busy (indeed, the Season does not start with the first fall performance but with all the preparation the precedes this part of the year). After finishing the editing of the studio recording of my composition “Clarinet Symphony” (it sounds great and I am hoping to report soon about what happens to the recording itself) I traveled to Szeged (Southern-Hungary) where I did a few pre-rehearsals for Armel Festival’s presentation of The Magic Flute at the Hackney Empire Theater in London, England. I am also preparing for the long rehearsal period at the Hamburg Opera starting at the end of September. I will be adding another opera to my repertoire: Peter Eötvös’ Senza sangue (Without Blood)
http://eotvospeter.com
This new work will be staged alongside with Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle (an amazing piece of music soon to be a 100 years old!).

Nature, music, lot of travel: Season 16-17 here I come!

No. 16 – Quartet

CONSTANZA:
Ah, Belmonte, my beloved!

BELMONTE:
Ah, Constanza, my beloved!

CONSTANZA:
Can it be? What rapture!
To hold you close to my heart
After so many days of unhappiness!

BELMONTE:
What bliss to find you!
Now all grief must vanish!
Oh how my heart rejoices!

CONSTANZA:
See how my tears of joy flow freely.

BELMONTE:
Angel! Let me kiss them from your cheek.

CONSTANZA:
Let them be the last ones.

BELMONTE:
Indeed, you shall be free this very day.

PEDRILLO:
Now, Blonda, have you understood?
Everything is prepared for flight.
We will be here on the stroke of midnight.

BLONDA:
Don’t worry, all will be ready,
I shall count the minutes;
If only the moment were here already!

ALL FOUR TOGETHER:
At last the sun of hope
Illuminates the gloomy skies.
Full of rapture, joy and bliss
We can see the end of our suffering.

BELMONTE:
Yet, in spite of my happiness
My heart within my breast
Is full of secret care.

CONSTANZA:
What is it, dearest? Tell me,
Quickly, explain yourself.
Conceal nothing from me!

BELMONTE:
They say ? they say ? that you …

CONSTANZA:
Go on!

PEDRILLO:
(indicating that he risks being hanged)
But Blonda, oh that ladder!
Are you really worth it?

BLONDA:
You fool, have you gone mad?
It might be better
If you had turned the question round!

PEDRILLO:
But Master Osmin??

BLONDA:
Let’s hear it!

CONSTANZA:
Will you not explain yourself?

BELMONTE:
They say??

PEDRILLO:
But Master Osmin??

BELMONTE:
That you??

PEDRILLO:
But Master Osmin??

BLONDA:
Let’s hear it!

CONSTANZA:
Go on??
Will you not explain yourself?

BELMONTE:
I will. But do not be angry
If, having heard a rumor,
I should dare to ask you
In fear and trembling
Whether you love the Pasha?

PEDRILLO:
(to Blonda)
Has Master Osmin never,
As one might well believe,
Exercised his lordly rights
Upon you as your owner?
That would a poor bargain!

CONSTANZA:
(to Belmonte)
Oh, how you grieve me!

BLONDA:
(to Pedrillo)
Here’s my reply to you!
(slaps Pedrillo’s face)

PEDRILLO:
Now I am in the picture.

BELMONTE:
(on his knees)
Constanza, oh forgive me!

BLONDA:
(angrily walking away from Pedrillo)
You don’t deserve me at all!

CONSTANZA:
(sighing as she turns away from Belmonte)
Have I remained faithful to you?

BLONDA:
(to Constanza)
The rogue has dared to ask
Whether I have remained true to him!

CONSTANZA:
(to Blonda)
And Belmont has been told
That I love the Pasha!

PEDRILLO:
(rubbing his cheek)
I’d take my dying oath
On Blonda’s fidelity!

BELMONTE:
(to Pedrillo)
Constanza is true to me,
There can be no doubt about it.

CONSTANZA – BLONDA:
When men become suspicious
And have no faith in our honour,
And look upon us with mistrust,
It is not to be borne.

BELMONTE – PEDRILLO:
When women are aggrieved
Because we think them fickle,
Then they are really true
And free from all reproaches.

PEDRILLO:
Dearest Blonda do forgive me!
Look, I put more faith in your fidelity
Than upon my own head!

BLONDA:
No, you can’t get away with it.
Suspecting me of doing that
With that foolish old buffer!

BELMONTE:
Oh, Constanza, my beloved!
Can you ever forgive me
For having asked such a question?

CONSTANZA:
Belmonte! How could you believe
That anyone could steal this heart
Which beats for you alone?

BELMONTE – PEDRILLO:
Oh, forgive me!

PEDRILLO – BELMONTE:
I am repentant!

CONSTANZA – BLONDA:
I forgive
Your remorse.

ALL FOUR:
Well, let this be the end of the matter!
Long live love
Let us value nothing else!
Let nothing kindle
The fire of jealousy.

That’s all. Problems solved, everybody lives happily ever after. Love prevails. In about 10 minutes real time, Mozart manages to bring two couples back together and clear all misunderstandings. Opera at its best. Whatever happens before and after is just another “pirate story” (full of amazing and genius musical numbers of course).

I am awestruck by No. -16 Quartet.

Conducting ‘The Abduction from the Seraglio’ energized me beyond belief. I am ready for the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. We’ll be playing Enescu Romanian Rhapsody #1, Dvorak Symphony #8 and the World Premiere of my newest composition: Clarinet Symphony at MUPA (Palace of the Arts), Budapest on February 3.

http://www.mupa.hu

I love my job!

Just A Quick Note

I promise I will write more and in details later.
For now just the bare facts:

UMZF (New Hungarian Music Forum) composers’ competition, homage to Bela Bartok, final round for chamber ensemble compositions, October 6 at the Budapest Music Center with the Hungarian Radio Symphony, live radio broadcast
Marcell Dargay: Monumentum for The Eternal Immigrant
Mate Balogh: Melodiemusik
Alessio Elia: Disappearing Rainbows
Laszlo Sandor: Divertimento – Giuoco dei suoni
http://bmc.hu

UMZF (New Hungarian Music Forum) composers’ competition, homage to Bela Bartok, final round for orchestral compositions, October 7 at Palace of the Arts, Budapest (MUPA) with the Hungarian Radio Symphony, live radio broadcast
Andrej Slezak: inSpiral
Balazs Horvath: Werkmusik for Beatboxer and orchestra
Mate balogh: Quintet
Gyula Bankovi: Zoldfeny-udvaru ej (Greenlight-garden light)
http://mupa.hu

Two performances of the new version of “Spring Awakening”, a one act opera by Mate Bella at the Academy of Music, Budapest (October 9 & 11)
http://zeneakademia.hu

Faust, An Eternal Will

“I, Faust, an Eternal Will” -sings Csaba Szegedi
http://csabaszegedi.com
in the role of Doctor Faust in the unfinished opera by Ferruccio Busoni.
http://wikipedia.org
Completed by Antony Beaumont, edited and cut to 90 minutes by director Mate Szabo
http://port.hu
and myself tomorrow’s performance will be the Hungarian premiere of this early 20th Century opera. As part of the “Faust 225 Festival” I will be leading the orchestra of the Hungarian State Opera and chorus and select principal singers in two performances only.
I am happy to have hundreds of opera lovers join me on Friday and Sunday, along with some of my Huntsville friends to enjoy this unique work at the beautiful downtown Budapest building of the State Opera
http://opera.hu
Both shows are virtually sold out.
Almost two years ago I posted about all the operas and ballets I had the pleasure to conduct during my professional career so far.
http://gregoryvajda.com
As of today I am happy to add the following operas to this list:
Ernst von Dohnanyi: The Tenor
Peter Eotvos: Lady Sarashina
Ferruccio Busoni: Doktor Faust